Day #1 Sofia
Arrival to Sofia.
After settling in at your hotel enjoy a sightseeing tour of the city – it’s an ancient settlement and a young capital in the same time. Here Roman ruins rub shoulders with secession architecture and communist government offices. Discover the charm of “old Sofia” during an included visit to the Museum of History of the city located in the former public bath-house.
Try your hand at making bobbin lace at a local women’s club. The century-old tradition of women meeting for a chat over their handwork is still alive, even in the Bulgarian capital of the 21st century.
For dinner savour typical Bulgarian products prepared and served with a twist at a local restaurant.
Day #2 Sofia - Koprivshtitsa - Troyan monastery - Oreshak village
Set off to the charming mountain town of Koprivshtitsa where cobbled streets still echo the steps of rich merchants, gifted poets and proud revolutionaries. Enjoy a walk in the old part complimented by visit of few museum houses to discover local lifestyle of the 19th century. Learn about the famous technology of woollen felt unique to Koprivshtitsa and see how it’s made.
For lunch taste local specialities in peaceful garden surroundings.
Stunning views of the mighty Balkan mountain await you during the afternoon crossing of Troyan-Karnare pass. Later bask in the tranquillity of Troyan monastery known for its miracle-working icon of the Virgin and stunning frescoes.
Dinner and overnight at a local designers’ hotel.
Day #3 Oreshak village - Veliko Tarnovo - Arbanasi - Veliko Tarnovo
Travel to the capital of Medieval Bulgaria – Veliko Tarnovo. Roam the pathways of mighty Tsarevets fortress and enjoy the views from the top of the Patriarchal Church. Explore Samovodene market street including a stop at a woodcarver’s workshop for trying your hand at the craft.
Savour “grandma’s cooking” at a countryside house during a home-hosted lunch.
Afternoon sightseeing of charming Arbanasi village will take you to the magnificent 17th-century church of Archangels Michael and Gabriel where a chamber choir will perform traditional Orthodox chants.
Later drive back to Veliko Tarnovo for a tour and tasting at the local brewery.
Enjoy dinner beneath the vaults of a restored 19th-century merchants’ inn.
Day #4 Veliko Tarnovo - Etara - Shipka - Kazanlak
Morning drive to Etara – an open-air ethnographic complex that showcases how people of this mountainous region implement water power to make their work easier. Take in the spirit of the place where typical slate roof houses and artisans’ workshops are set in the surroundings of a lush forest.
Cross the Balkan mountain at its most famed point – Shipka pass – shrouded in the glory of battles and military victory since the Liberation war of 1877. Marvel at the serene gold-domed Nativity church at the bottom of the pass before entering the Valley of Roses and Thracian Kings.
Enjoy a fish lunch with a view to the tranquil Koprinka lake. At its bottom there lie the ruins of Seuthopolis, the capital of powerful Thracian tribe Odrissi. Thracians were known for their bravery, they were often mercenaries in the wars in Ancient Greece.
In the afternoon head for nearby Kazanlak to discover Thracian gold and silver treasures as well as beehive tombs built 2300 years ago.
Dinner and overnight at a comfortable local hotel.
Day #5 Kazanlak - Tarnichane village - Starosel - Plovdiv
Head west to visit the oldest still functioning distillery for rose oil in the country. Explore the past and present of this fragrant business that has made Bulgaria world-famous in the field of cosmetics and perfume industry. Rose essential oil has rightfully been named “Bulgarian liquid gold”.
Later stop over at Starosel Thracian cult complex and have lunch at a local winery.
Afternoon sightseeing of the second most populous Bulgarian city Plovdiv. Discover the facets of this multi-cultural, artistic, hospitable and very old settlement. Plovdiv used to be bastion of Philip II of Macedon, Alexander the Great’s father, as well as the capital of a huge Roman province. Explore the art of making replicas of Thracian treasures at a local workshop.
Dinner at a traditional restaurant complimented with a folklore dance performance.
Day #6 Plovdiv - Velingrad - Dobarsko village - Bansko
Leave the fertile plains of South Bulgaria and head for Rodopi mountains, home of the mythological musician Orpheus. Enjoy a visit to a small factory for handwoven carpets that makes real art pieces by order of customers from all over the world including Mick Jagger and the British Crown.
Enjoy a brief stopover at the Balkan Peninsula’s capital of SPA tourism – Velingrad. While in town stroll the park with the most powerful karst spring and have light lunch.
Later board a narrow gauge train that will slowly take you through river gorges and past lush meadows. Visit Dobarsko village known for its old church where some frescoes seem to show Jesus in a spaceship.
In the late afternoon join a couple of local grannies at their countryside house for a treat of merrymaking, singing and delicious home-cooked food.
Overnight at a hotel in the foot of stunning Pirin mountain.
Day #7 Bansko - Rila monastery - Sofia
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Head for the most attractive Bulgarian religious site – Rila monastery – nestled in the slopes of the highest mountain of Bulgaria. Explore the dazzling main church, courtyard and rich museum collection. Climb the creaking wooden staircases to top-floor guest rooms that offer smashing views of the complex.
For lunch sample the simple but very tasty local fare at a nearby restaurant.
Weather permitting visit the Stob pyramids – weird sandstone formations that according to legend represent a petrified wedding party.
On the way back to Sofia enjoy a wine-tasting session at an award-winning winery.
For your last dinner at a local restaurant in Sofia feast with meals cooked by recipes gathered from dozens of monasteries from all over Bulgaria.